16 October 2009

Netbook from MSI with (almost) Notebook Performance

MSI Wind U210-006US Review
Price: $429.99

We used to know that common netbook's performance is below the notebooks. But the latest generation of MSI Wind-series notebook is different. MSI claims that it performs like a notebook, with the price of a netbook!

Let's see the specifications. MSI Wind U210-006US built around AMD Athlon Neo MV-40. It's 64 bit processor and running at 1.6GHz. A lot of netbook built on Intel Atom processor. AMD Neo is the competitor of Atom. Less battery life, but more power! It has six-cell battery.

To solve the battery life problem MSI has included Eco "button" that extend battery life. There are five power-saver settings: Gaming mode, Movie mode, Presentation mode, Office mode, Turbo Battery mode.

It also has integrated ATI Radeon X1250 as graphics card. Powerful enough to operate Windows Vista Home Premium (32-bit) included in the box. MSI offers free upgrade to Windows 7.

The memory is 2GB. It's huge compared to some netbooks with 1GB of RAM. The storage is 250GB. Large enough for a netbook. As a netbook, this MSI Wind doesn't have an optical drive.

The screen is 12.1 inches with 1,366x768 native resolution. With 1.2x11.7x7.5 inches (HWD) dimensions. It weights 3.2 pounds. A little heavier than the other netbooks on the market with 10 inches screen.

The keyboard is good designed and comfortable to use. The letter keys are extra wide while the right shift key and the backspace key are smaller than those on full-size keyboards. The "Ergonomic De-Stress" keyboard design is very comfortable and results in minimal mistyping. The palm rests are glossy, comfortable, and cool.

The ports available are headphone and microphone jacks, three USB ports (two on right side and one on left side), a memory-card slot, an Ethernet jack, a cable-lock slot, VGA-out port, HDMI-out port. If you use Bluetooth you had better buy a bluetooth receiver because the MSI has none of it. But don't worry it has 1.3-megapixel Webcam.

There are two configurations of MSI U210. The U210-006US comes in white, while the U210-008US comes in black. The white one is more interesting for us.


26 August 2009

Sony Vaio W111XX Review

CNET editors' review

  • CNET editors' rating: 3.0 stars Good
    Detailed editors' rating
      Design : 8.0
      Features : 8.0
      Performance : 7.0
      Battery life : 5.0
      Service and support : 7.0
      Overall score: 6.7 (3.0 stars)
  • Reviewed on: 08/24/2009
  • Released on: 08/01/2009

Sony's first foray in to the world of Atom-powered laptops was the Vaio P-series Lifestyle PC, which sported a unique miniaturized design (about the same footprint as a standard business envelope), but was hampered by input issues (no touch pad), and the use of Windows Vista as its OS.

At the time of that product's release, Sony was adamant that despite the Atom processor and small size, it was most definitely not a Netbook. The new Vaio W, on the other hand, is very clearly a Netbook, with Windows XP, a 10-inch display, and a familiar Netbook form factor.

While the $499 price may cause some sticker shock, as the base components aren't too much different from what you'd find in a $299-$399 Netbook, Sony is hoping the inclusion of a 1,366x768 high-definition display is enough to push the Vaio W over the line into the elusive "premium Netbook" category--perhaps the holy grail of PC makers looking to escape the price-cutting wars at the lower end of the Netbook biz.

If the hi-res display is worth a $100 (or more) premium to you, than the Vaio W is one of the nicer overall Netbook packages out there, but the same basic combo of an Intel Atom N280 CPU, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drive, and Windows XP is definitely available for less. Dell's less snazzy-looking Mini 10 can also be outfitted with a similar hi-def display for around the same price, and offers more configuration flexibility.

Price as reviewed $499
Processor 1.6GHz Intel Atom N280
Memory 1GB, 533MHz DDR2
Hard drive 160GB 5,400rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel 945GM Express
Graphics Intel GMA 950 (integrated)
Operating System Windows XP Home SP3
Dimensions (WD) 10.6 inches wide by 7.3 inches deep
Height 0.8-1.0 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 10.1 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 2.5/3.0 pounds
Category Netbook

While not the thinnest or lightest 10-inch Netbook around, the Sony Vaio W offers a solid, well-constructed chassis that feels sturdier than some of the less expensive Netbooks we've seen. Our unit was decked out in an all-over pink color scheme, from a rich, darker pink on the lid, to a pale pink on the patterned keyboard tray, to a subtle pink crosshatch on the touch-pad surface. If pink's not your color, brown and white versions are available as well.

With the recent (and welcome) trend toward oversized keys on Netbooks--relatively speaking, of course--we were a little surprised by how diminutive the keyboard on the Vaio W felt. It looks and feels like a shrunk-down clone of the standard Vaio laptop keyboard, with flat-topped, widely spaced keys. But this leaves the individual keys smaller than we'd like, and the Function, Tab, and right shift keys are especially tiny.

Sony includes its custom Media Plus software for organizing and playing media files. It's a well-done app, but we're usually wary of investing the time to learn a proprietary software package that's only used on one brand of laptops.

The real star here is the 10.1-inch wide-screen LED display. It has a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is higher than the Netbook standard of 1,024x600. We've also seen this higher resolution on a couple of 11.6-inch Netbooks, such as the Asus Eee PC 1101HA.

While it's arguably a better fit on those 11-inch screens, it also works nearly as well on the smaller 10-inch display, and we didn't find text or icons too small to see. Of course, your mileage with HD video files with a Netbook's anemic video capabilities may vary; we were able to load up HD versions of TV show episodes on Hulu, but they stuttered in full-screen mode.

Sony Vaio W Average for category [Netbook]
Audio headphone/microphone jacks headphone/microphone jacks
Data 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader, Memory Stick reader 2 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Expansion None None
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth
Optical drive None None

Being a Sony Vaio, it's not surprising that there's a second media card slot for the proprietary Memory Stick format. And being at the top end of the Netbook price scale, it's also not surprising to find Bluetooth and 802.11n Wi-Fi included (but not HDMI, as found on the similarly priced Dell Mini 10).

With an Intel Atom N280 CPU, the Vaio W is a bit zippier than Netbooks with the N270 version of the Atom (or the even slower Z520 version). The difference isn't major, but in a system with little processing headspace as it is, every little bit counts. We found the Vaio W perfectly usable for basic Netbook tasks, from Web surfing to e-mail to working on office docs--and it's much easier to use than Sony's P-series non-Netbook.

Sony Vaio W
Off (watts) 0.36
Sleep (watts) 0.6
Idle (watts) 7.52
Load (watts) 17.09
Raw (annual kWh) 26.37
Annual operating cost (@$0.1135/kWh) $2.99

The Sony Vaio W ran for 2 hours and 19 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, using the included three-cell battery. That's disappointing for a Netbook, especially as these are systems designed for on-the-road use. Our battery drain test is especially grueling, so you can expect somewhat longer life from casual Web surfing and office use.

Sony includes an industry-standard, one-year, parts-and-labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan is an extra $169. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, and a well-designed support site with a knowledge base and driver downloads.

Multimedia Multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Jalbum photo conversion test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)

Find out more about how we test laptops.

Sony Vaio W
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Toshiba 5400rpm

Lenovo Ideapad S10-2
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 128MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Western Digital 5400rpm

Asus Eee PC 1005HA
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Hitachi 5400rpm

Acer Aspire One AOD250
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.6GHz Intel Atom N270; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Intel GMA 950; 160GB Seagate 5400rpm

HP Mini 5101
Windows XP Home Edition SP3; 1.66GHz Intel Atom N280; 1024MB DDR2 SDRAM 800MHz; 224MB (Shared) Mobile Int


05 August 2009

Gateway NV5214u Review

Reviewed by: Catharine Smith
Review Date: August 2009

Computer Shopper - Tired of paying for features you don’t need? Gateway has a notebook for you. At $499, the 6.8-pound NV5214u is priced like a netbook but functions like a mainstream laptop. Its sleek design, 15.6-inch wide-screen LCD, and 1,366x768 native resolution give the impression of a high-end notebook. But when you’re paying half the price of the average mainstream laptop, you should expect to sacrifice some on performance, and this model does demand this. The $499 price is the best thing the NV5214u has going for it, followed closely by its design. But those with undemanding computing needs and an eye for style should seriously consider this notebook.

The NV5214u's sleek design has the flair of a much pricier mdoel. This model is coffee-brown, with a honeycomb pattern. The metallic Gateway logo stands out against the neutral tones.

With a matte-black keyboard, a silver rim, and a subtle honeycomb pattern, the NV5214u keeps in step with current laptop design. Our model came in coffee brown, but cherry red, nightsky black, and midnight blue options are also available.

The extra-wide keyboard features a dedicated number pad; neither, thankfully, puts any of the major keys in odd places. The letter keys are broad and flat, which takes some getting used to but doesn’t affect typing ease. The space bar is small, compared with the other keys, though it's not reduced enough to be bothersome. The touch pad is roomy, and the long, thin button below it functions as both a right- and a left-click button, depending on which side of it you press.

Above the keyboard is a row of indicator lights. The four lights to the left are for hard drive activity, Caps Lock, Num Lock, and Bluetooth. To their right are seven LED indicators that double as touch buttons, glowing red when activated. These touch controls govern a power-save function, the MyBackup function, the Wi-Fi enabler, a touch-pad-lock feature, and volume levels. (The MyBackup button lets you copy and store important files with one press.) Above the screen are a built-in microphone and an integrated Webcam.

To test display and sound, we watched The Matrix via the NV5214u’s DVD drive. In dim light, picture quality was beautiful (and viewable even from off-axis). However, the glossy screen was prone to glare in bright light. Unless you’re sitting directly in front of the screen, don’t try to watch movies in a well-lit room. Volume levels were an issue, as well. The Dolby-quality sound was best appreciated with headphones on; without headphones, we found ourselves continually pressing the volume controls for more oomph, even when we knew volume was at 100 percent. Gunshots and musical swells were quite loud, but dialog-filled scenes sounded very soft. The NV5214u's cooling system runs quietly, however, so the internal fan noise doesn’t interfere with the sound, as it does on some laptops.

The keys are broad and flat. A number pad occupies the right side of the keyboard.

The NV5214u offers laptop-typical connectivity. On the left side are an AC adapter port, a Kensington-lock slot, VGA and HDMI connectors, two USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and a five-format memory-card reader. The front edge sports a power light, a battery light, and a ventilation grille for the fan inside. The right side sports the DVD drive, two more USB ports, and a modem jack. The power on/off button caps the right side of the hinge.

We noted a few out-of-the-box glitches when test-driving our review unit, namely overall sluggishness and an unruly touch pad. But, oddly, these problems began to smooth themselves out after a few hours. At the end of a full day of testing, the glitches had resolved themselves, likely because the NV5214u had automatically downloaded some Windows updates. By the time we had conditioned the battery, the NV5214u was running like normal. This isn't the kind of observed behavior we would say should prevent you from buying this system, but if you've already bought it and are experiencing the same thing, give it time to run Windows Update, and it should be fine.

Equipped with a 2.1GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-64 processor, a whopping 4GB of DDR2 RAM, and ATI Radeon HD 3200 graphics with 256MB of dedicated video memory, the NV5214u returned decent benchmark-test scores for the price. We ran our iTunes encoding test first; the laptop converted our 11 iTunes test tracks from MP3 to AAC in 5 minutes and 50 seconds, which is on the slow side for a mainstream notebook (defined as those with 15.4- or 15.6-inch displays) but not far behind the score achieved by the average budget notebook. (We define budget models as $800 or less, and most of them we've tested have taken at least 5 minutes to complete this test.) Our Windows Media Encoder test, which, like the iTunes test, measures CPU performance, took 9 minutes and 53 seconds, 2 minutes slower than the average mainstream system, and about a minute longer than the $549 Acer Extensa 4630z, the Gateway laptop's closest price competitor in the mainstream-laptop category.

On the left, you'll find a Kensington lock slot, AC adapter port, VGA, HDMI, two USB ports, microphone and headphone jacks, and a five-in-one memory card reader.

On our PCMark Vantage test, which evaluates overall system performance, the NV5214u scored 800 points below the mainstream-notebook average, which is still fine for the typical Web surfer. It even managed to beat out the $999 Gateway MC7803u's score of 2,202. On our 3DMark06 test, which measures gaming performance, the NV5214u returned scores that were far below the mainstream-notebook average but about double what other budget systems deliver. Thanks to ATI’s integrated graphics, at 1,024x768, the NV5214u managed a decent score of 1,668 on 3DMark06; that score dropped to a still-respectable 1,452 at its native resolution of 1,366x768. The results of our Cinebench 10 (3,523) test, which measures how well the CPU and graphics work together, were right on target for its price and class.This means you could play some older titles or even some newer ones with the eye candy turned off —not bad for a budget notebook.

Battery life was disappointing. On our DVD rundown test, the system lasted just 1 hour and 44 minutes, about 30 minutes shorter than the laptop average, including budget systems. (To be fair, battery life is almost always a casualty of decent graphics performance.) At 6.8 pounds, however, the NV5214u likely won’t allow you to stray too far from an AC outlet.

Our NV5214u came with the 64-bit version of Windows Vista Home Premium installed. Gateway also includes Adobe Flash Reader, Adobe Reader, Gateway's MyBackup Solution, Gateway's Recovery Management, Microsoft Works, and 60-day trial versions of Norton Internet Security, Microsoft Windows Live, and Microsoft Office Home & Student 2007. Gateway tops the bundle off with a one-year warranty and a free upgrade to Windows 7 for notebooks purchased between June 26, 2009 and January 31, 2010.

All told, the NV5214u is a remarkable deal at $499. Those looking for a notebook to check e-mail, surf the Web, and tote from the living room to the kitchen (and to Grandma’s once in a while) will be more than pleased with this model. It looks like it costs three times as much as it does; it performs decently; and it won’t break the bank. If your needs are simple and cash is tight, this is a great bargain buy.

Sleek design and robust specs for a budget price; dedicated number pad; free Windows 7 upgrade

Mediocre performance; some out-of-the-box performance quirks; glossy screen is glare-prone; low maximum speaker volume

Editors' Take
Looking at first glance nothing like a $499 laptop, the AMD-based NV5214u is a steal, though its performance is more telling.

Gateway NV5214u

Best Price

Best Buy

Key Specs
Processor: 2.1GHz AMD Athlon X2 QL-64
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 320GB hard drive
Optical Drive: DVD±RW
Screen: 15.6 inches (1,366x768 native resolution)
Graphics: ATI Radeon HD 3200 (256MB)
Weight: 6.8 pounds
Dimensions (HWD): 1.5x14.6x9.8 inches
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)


11 July 2009

iBuypower M865TU

Reviewed by: John R. Delaney
Review Date: July 2009

Nearly all of today’s powerful gaming notebooks have at least one thing in common: They are typically bulky, desktop replacement–size systems that can weigh upwards of 11 pounds. The iBuypower M865TU ($2,049 list), on the other hand, is different. It delivers gaming-class power in a 15-inch chassis that won’t break your back. Unfortunately, you’ll have to lug around the power adapter, too, because this system’s battery life is woefully short.

There’s nothing fancy about the M865TU’s design.

The M865TU looks more like a business system than a gaming notebook. Eschewing the flashy finish and lighting effects found on systems such as Alienware’s M17 and Toshiba’s Qosmio X305-Q708, it uses a lightly textured black case accentuated by two thin bands of silver trim. The case has a very solid feel to it and sports a dual-hinge mechanism that keeps the lid firmly in place without the need for a latch. Beneath the lid is a matching keyboard deck with a full-size black keyboard and a smallish (also textured) touch pad and button assembly.

The keyboard keys are well-spaced and responsive, but the mouse buttons are a bit stiff and require a heavy touch. There’s a fingerprint reader sandwiched between the mouse buttons, and three programmable quick-launch buttons and a power switch are at the top of the deck. Missing are dedicated media buttons and volume controls.

The system weighs in at 7.3 pounds, which is about average for a 15-inch notebook but several pounds lighter than the bigger rigs. But throw in the sizable AC adapter, and you’re looking at 9.1 pounds of travel weight. As it turns out, you’ll want to keep the adapter handy, but more on that later.

The 15.4-inch display has a resolution of 1,680x1,050 and sports a high-gloss antiglare coating, which is reflective but produces vivid colors and wide viewing angles. The panel does a great job of handling fast motion and looked wonderful while playing a round of Far Cry 2. We didn't notice any motion errors, and gameplay was very smooth. The speaker system was weak, however, and would benefit from even a small subwoofer.

The M865TU offers a better-than-average feature set. Scattered along the front, back, and sides are HDMI and DVI video outputs; three USB and one eSATA/USB combo port; a FireWire port; and Gigabit Ethernet and modem jacks. You also get a seven-format flash-memory-card reader, a multiformat DVD burner, a 2-megapixel Webcam, an ExpressCard/54 slot, and headphone, microphone, and S/PDIF audio jacks. For those who still use an analog display, a DVI-to-VGA dongle is included in the box. The roomy 500GB 7,200rpm hard drive comes with Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit) and is free of the usual bloatware, although you do get a neat little Webcam app from BisonCap.

The AC adapter adds almost 2 pounds to the travel weight.

Configured with Intel’s 3.06GHz Core 2 Duo processor, 4GB of quick DDR3 RAM, and Nvidia’s GeForce GTX260M graphics with 1GB of DDR3 video memory, the M865TU turned in some remarkable scores on our benchmark tests. Its score of 5,230 on Futuremark’s PCMark Vantage 64-bit test was the highest we’ve seen from any notebook as of this writing, and its score on the 32-bit test was more than 600 points above the average for a desktop-replacement notebook. It handled our iTunes encoding test in 2 minutes and 52 seconds, which is a record time for any notebook, and it needed only 4 minutes and 47 seconds to complete our Windows Media Encoder test, which was slower than the Qosmio X305 and the MSI GX720 but still 25 seconds faster than the average time for its class.

Connections include DVI, HDMI, eSATA, and USB ports.

Its 3D performance was good but not awe-inspiring; a 3DMark06 score of 9,601 while running at its native resolution (1,680x1,050) lagged behind the Qosmio as well as the Asus W90Vp-X1 but was still better than the Gateway P7808u FX gaming notebook and Lenovo’s ultra-expensive ThinkPad W700ds.

While its score of 98.4 frames per second (fps) on our demanding Company of Heroes DirectX9 (DX9) gaming test was right around average for a gaming system, the M865TU should have no trouble handling DX 9 games with a fair amount of eye candy turned on. Its DirectX 10 (DX10) score of 33.6fps was decent, but you may want to ratchet down the special effects for DX 10 gaming. Battery life was disappointing; the eight-cell battery lasted a measly 1 hour and 38 minutes on our DVD rundown test, which is what you’d expect from a big, 17-inch-plus notebook but not from a 15-inch system. By way of comparison, Dell’s Studio 15 lasted 2 hours and 54 minutes.

If you’re looking for a solid gaming notebook that you can actually travel with, and you can live without a fancy gaming-style finish, the iBuypower M865TU is for you. There are less-expensive gaming notebooks around, but they don’t offer the same level of performance and features as the M865TU. While you can get better gaming performance, too, you’ll pay a premium for those notebooks. And as of right now, there isn’t one über-system that dominates the competition in all categories, so regardless of what you buy, you’ll be making some trade-offs.

We wish the iBuypower M865TU lasted longer between charges and offered a more robust audio system, but overall, this is a very good 15.4-inch gaming notebook that offers enough performance for moderate gamers and even serious gamers who can't splash out for a deluxe model.
Price (at time of review): $2,049 (list)

Editors' Rating

Great performance; sturdy build quality; good selection of ports

Poor battery life; low-powered speakers; ho-hum design

Editors' Take
This gaming laptop offers solid performance and above-average connectivity in an uncommonly portable 15-inch frame. The battery life is subpar, however.

iBuypower M865TU
Price (at time of review): $2,049 (list)

Key Specs
Processor: 3.06GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9900
Memory: 4GB RAM
Storage: 500GB hard drive
Optical Drive: DVD±RW
Screen: 15.4 inches (1,680x1,050 native resolution)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX260M (1GB)
Weight: 7.3 pounds
Dimensions (HWD): 1.95x14.3x10.6 inches
Operating System: Windows Vista Home Premium (64-bit)


13 June 2009


Acer's Recession-Busting Netbook

By late last year, the Acer Aspire One had beaten out ASUS's combined offerings to become the topselling netbook—or so market research firm DisplaySearch concluded. The One reached this pinnacle because of its low price—despite a smaller-thanaverage (8.9-inch) screen and a pair of awkwardly placed mouse buttons. This Aspire One is the longoverdue update, and as its name implies, the screen size has finally grown to the more-popular 10 inches. Also, the mouse buttons have been relocated. It's not as well equipped as the ASUS EeePC 1000HE (see page 9), but the price is still right.

Design isn't one of the One's strengths. It's a hit thicker, bigger, and heavier than most of its rivals (in part owing to the six-cell battery sticking ow an extra inch), and its case is not as flashy as theirs. Although the mouse buttons are better placed than in the previous version. they are still tiny and difficult to press. The One's keyboard, at 89 percent of full size, hasn't yet caught up with those of its peers. Not much has changed in the feature set: You get three USB ports, VGA-out, an Ethernet port, a 1.3-megapixel webcam, 802.11g and a 4-in-1 card reader. The hard drive has been bumped up to 160GB, however.

In performance, the Aspire One was on a par with its competition, but battery life was mysteriously impressive. Although its six-cell battery capacity (59 Wh) is less than that of the ASUS 1000HE (63 Wh), the Aspire One somehow produced 8 hours 46 minutes of battery life, compared with 6:36 for the ASUS. If you don't mind the keyboard and navigation issues, and price is of the uppermost concern, the Aspire One is worth a look. Otherwise, spend the extra $50 for our EC, the ASUS EeePC 1000HE. Cisco Cheng

Specs: 1.6-GHz Intel Atom N270; 1GB DDR2 SDRAM; 160GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive; 128MB Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 950; 10.1-inch, 1,024-by-600 display; 2.9 pounds (3.5 pounds travel); three USB ports; 59-Wh, 5.8-Ah lithium ion battery; Windows XP Home Edition.

PC Magazine April 2009


10 May 2009

Lenovo Ideapad S10e

A well-built netbook from Lenovo that deserves a better battery

While it seems every notebook manufacturer has a netbook or two in their portfolio, a notable absentee has been Lenovo, something that was rectified late last year when the long-awaited Ideapad Sloe appeared. a well-designed nctbook that cries out for a bigger battery.

One look at its design and you can toll who made it — Lenovo could have named it the Thinkpad Mini, which, in some people's eyes is already enough reason to buy one. As well as the familia,- black look the Ideapad is also available in white and red and, despite its plastic construction. the build quality is good enough to survive life on the road.

There are no surprises here: an Intel Atom N270 1.6GHz CPU is coupled with the Intel 945GSI: chipsct tha: provides the integrated GMA950 graphics. Performance is akin to Samsung's NC10 and MSI's Wind; PCmark05 CPU score of 2,395 and a Cinebench single CPU test score of 89 are right in the middle of the standard figures for this type of netbook.

The Ideapad comes with 1GB of PC2-5300 DDR2 memory which is split into two parts; 512MB is soldered to the motherboard while the single Sodimm slot holds a 512MB memory module, so if you want a bit more performance you can replace it with a 1GB module - 1.5GB is the most the motherboard can support. Upgrading the memory - and for that matter replacing the hard drive - is a doddle. as both sit under a door in the underside of the Ideapad.

As standard it comes with a 160G3 5,400rpm Western Digital hard drive with Windows XP Home installed. There is a Suse Linux version available that has an 80GB hard disk (1270).

You also get a four-in-one card reader and a surprise in the form of a 34mm Express card slot which can be used to expand he Ideapad's capabilities with additional USB ports, an eSata card cr, perhaps the most useful option, a mobile broadband modem.

The 10.1in wSVGA LED backlit TrT screen has a 1,024x576 pixel resolution with a matt coating so you can use it comfortably in a well-lit office or outside on a bright day The screen produces images that have sharp colours and good contrast. The top bezel of the screen is home to a 1.3-megap,xel webcarn.

Lenovo is renowned for its notebook keyboards and thankfully the Ideapad follows the family tradition. albeit on a much smaller scale, but even so the build quality of the keyboard is first rate. The keybed has very little, if any, flex to it and, although the keys are very small, the way they have been designed makes the keyboard easy to use even if you have large fingers. The touchpad has been given a slightly textured finish making it easy and comfortable to use.

Apart from the previously mentioned Express Card slot and card reader the rest of the ports are standard netbook fare; two USB2, two audio and a VGA out port. The same rule applies to the communications suite; 802 11 big Wifi, 10/100Mbits/sec Ethernet and Bluetooth 2 CDR.

The only real letdown with the Ideapad, and it's not alone in this, is the short life of the three-cell 2,603rnAH battery. When it was tested in everyday use the battery lasted just one nour, 51 minutes, while in ebook mode it produced a lowly two hours, 43 minutes, and like many of its competitors it could really do with a six-cell battery. Simon Crisp

Personal Computer World April 2009


Toshiba Portêgê A600

A lightweight laptop with a five-hour battery life

Toshiba's latest addition to its popular Portége notebook range is the A600 ultraportable that comes in two models, the 120 and our review sample. the 122. 'I he only difference :s the size of the hard disk: 160GB and 25CG6 respectively.

The silver finish of the A600 is only relieved by the matt black screen frame, chromed mouse buttons and Toshiba logo on the lid. The laptop weighs a mere 1.8kg, including the small power brick, so you can carry it around all day without noticing it But the light weight comes at a cost, as the wrist pad has a degree of flex to it and the lid is pretty thin and fragile

The A600 is powered by one of Intel's low-voltage 5U9300 Core 2 Duo processors, clocked at 1.2GHz and backed by 2GB of 800MHz DDR2 memory. It won't set the world alight with its performance (PCmark05 score of 2,842), but the processor does have a Thermal Design Power (TDP) of just 10W and a large 5.800mAh battery, so the battery life is impressive. It lasted six hours, 17 minutes with the latest version of Mobilerrark 07, tested under normal working conditions and managed seven hours, 18 minutes when used as an ebook.

The 12.1in WXCA screen has a 1,280x800 pixel resolution with LED backlighting. It doesn't have high-gloss coating and the matt finish subdues the colours and contrast a little — but you soon get used to it and it doesn't reflect office lighting.

Although the keybed has a lot of flex, the keys themselves feel good to use, as does the touchpad. A fingerprint reader is also included for added security

One of the three USB ports is a combo eSata/USE and features Sleep-and-Charge which allows any chargeable peripheral to charge when the !aptop is turned off. Simon Crisp

Personal Computer World April 2009